Awkward Holiday Dinner Questions
Yes, this is the season to be thankful, but it’s also the season of awkward family questions about your college future. While you and I know that you only submitted your applications last week, or maybe haven’t even passed the deadlines yet, your Uncle Reggie is still going to ask the inevitable question, “So, where are you going to college next year, eh?” Right now, it’s probably not something you’re ready to talk about with your extended family. Most Americans can’t name more than 20 colleges, so if you tell them you are interested in a school, they’re very likely to say they haven’t heard of it, and “why aren’t you applying to X college anyway?” If you’re still keeping your list close to your chest, here’s some advice on dodging the question, without having to lie.
- Focus on the search: tell Reggie that you’ve been looking for schools that fulfill certain specific criteria. “I have been applying to schools with a great bakery-management program.” If he doesn’t know anything about bakery management programs, he’ll have to ask you what schools those are, rather than tell you why his alma mater is so much better than your choices.
- Focus on their fond memories: tell your college-proud Aunt Rita that you just don’t know anything about next year because you’ve just submitted the first round of documents, but that you’re hopeful that you’ll be as happy wherever you end up as she was at her alma mater. She’ll start telling stories about her glory days and you can just relax.
- Redirect: Rather than have to justify your choices to an audience who doesn’t really understand them, give them some details about how fun or how difficult the application process itself was. “Can you believe I had to write an essay about my least favorite piece of clothing?!” Get them reminiscing about their applications and other times they’ve had to do something so challenging. Then, excuse yourself for a refill or take a big bite of stuffing and let the conversation pass to another person at the table.
- Use humor: Tell everyone you have a secret plan, after all, you do! If you’re not ready to share your college choice process with them, don’t. Keep them guessing. This time next year, around the Thanksgiving table, you can tell everyone all about your new school, and they’ll be more interested in Cousin Eliza’s upcoming wedding anyway.